My attention these days turns more and more toward self-love as a spiritual practice. For some of you the keyword here is “spiritual” and for others of you the word for the day is “practice.” Either way I’m referring to adopting a continuous way of being. “I accept healing and love for myself” and “I am more than enough” are two of my mantras. These phrases singsong in my head and replace the negative lessons about self that I inherited from my birth family, my community, other lifetimes, and from this world that sometimes belches fear.
Today, I stand in a good place of self-acceptance and yet I remind myself that the practice of self-love has to be maintained. “I receive love. I receive joy. I receive abundance.” “I love you,” I say to the mirror. I know. It sounds silly but maybe it—I love you—is suppose to sound silly, to feel light and ridiculous in the body, to be freeing.
I recently read several articles about the triangle theory of love.1 Researchers have long tried to use science to analyze what exactly is love. What can we say about love that would help people to live their lives better? The triangle represents the three extreme aspects of what we call love: intimacy, passion, and commitment.2 So, as you consider these three elements ask yourself how much of each do you have in your present relationship.
Of course, all relationships fluctuate among these three by degree. Some couples or households assume that inevitable change over time with your person(s) means a lessening of any combination of the three. That’s not necessarily true. At any point in the relationship each of you can use the triangle theory as an assessment tool for the relationship and work on upping any weak areas.
My challenge here is to attempt to apply triangle theory to my concept of self-love. Why not? I think that I should be able to consider intimacy for or with the self. I should be able to consider passion or emotional depth for or with the self. I want to consider commitment—yes, long-term commitment—to self. By doing so, I expect to increase and deepen what I have to offer to others. I think that I can only benefit from the effort. It’s a creative journey, I believe.
Challenge to myself: apply triangle theory to my concept of self-love:
My argument: Self-love has to have development and ongoing care just like a relationship of any sort with another human being.
I probably should begin with frequent check in’s with self. How am I doing? Or, more to the point, I should ask, “how am I feeling?” How do I gauge how well I am doing? Well, I’m going to try triangle theory on for size:
The more that I learn about me the more Me there is to love others. So, I set an intention of loving myself. I set an intention of exploring self so that I am increasingly on the mark of who I really am. I set an intention of growing further and expressing love in the world.
1. Madey, S. F., & Rodgers, L. (2009). The effect of attachment and Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love on relationship satisfaction. Individual Differences Research, 7(2), 76-84.
2. “Each point of the triangle represents the extreme of one of the dimensions of love.” Whitbourne, Ph.d., Susan Krauss. Which of the 7 Types of Relationships Fits Yours, Psychology Today, August 17, 2013, https://tinyurl.com/yc88wxlq.
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